Frank Herbert’s Dune Series Ranked
By: Preston Simmons | Written: December 22, 2021
Reading order of Dune
Frank Herbert’s Dune series, simply put, is a masterpiece. What starts as a sci-fi adventure story quickly evolves into a philosophical, political space opera. It’s epic, strange, and one of the most imaginative pieces of fiction you will ever read.
If you have clicked on this article, more than likely, you are interested in reading Dune or have already read the series but want to see where my rankings for the series match up with yours. If you are in the latter category, you can skip this section. If you are in the former category, this section will help you start your journey through the series.
This is the correct reading order of Frank Herbert’s Dune series:
- Dune (1965)
- Dune Messiah (1969)
- Children of Dune (1976)
- God Emperor of Dune (1981)
- Heretics of Dune (1984)
- Chapterhouse Dune (1985)
These six novels comprise the Dune series written by Frank Herbert. In 2006, Brian Herbert, his son, continued the series with Hunters of Dune; however, I will cover only the original six in the ranking list for this article.
Should you read the other Dune books?
A common question many first-time readers have regarding the Dune series is whether or not it’s necessary to read the other Dune books after Dune (1965). Some argue that Dune can be read as a stand-alone book. Others say that you should read all six to get the complete story as Frank Herbert intended.
I strongly recommend reading at least through God Emperor of Dune. In my opinion, God Emperor is the perfect ending to a specific storyline started from Dune (1965). Heretics (1984) and Chapterhouse (1985) are worth it if you want to continue reading stories set in the Dune universe that are not necessarily connected to the storyline started in the original novel.
That being said, every single Dune novel written by Frank Herbert is worth reading. However, which of his books is the best?
Here is the Dune series ranked!
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*Potential Spoilers Ahead*
#6 – Dune Messiah
Number 6 in the Dune series ranked is Dune Messiah (1969), book 2 in the series. Dune Messiah feels like an epilogue to Dune rather than a true sequel in many ways. Dune Messiah is also one of the most disappointing books I have ever read. Not because the book is terrible at all; I think it gets a bad reputation and is judged too harshly by the community. It’s well-written, intriguing, and overall a good book.
The problem with Dune Messiah is that it’s not the book that you would expect to read after the conclusion of Dune. More than likely, what you would expect from the sequel to Dune would be an action-packed story of the Fremen Jihad prophesied in the original novel by Paul that would depict his war with the rest of the universe as he and his Fremen conquered the stars. Instead, Dune Messiah skips all of that.
Instead, the book focuses on the consequences of events that we didn’t see.
Disappointment due to unfulfilled sequel potential aside, the book is just not as compelling as the other entries in the series. Not until the final few chapters does the book feel like anything of great substance happens, other than the reappearance of a specific unexpected character. Because of that, Dune Messiah places number 6 in the Dune series ranked.
Where to Find: You can find Dune Messiah on Amazon by clicking here!
#5 – Chapterhouse Dune
Number 5 in the Dune series ranked is Chapterhouse Dune, book 6 in the series. As I mentioned earlier, Heretics and Chapterhouse could be considered a spin-off series in the Dune universe rather than a continuation of the original Dune novel. Chapterhouse, therefore, is more like a book 2 to the first novel in the Bene Gesserit saga, Heretics of Dune.
Chapterhouse does a good job expanding on the Bene Gesserit culture built throughout the series, but more prominently in Heretics of Dune. The best part about Chapterhouse is that now we get to experience the POV of a Mother Superior, the highest-ranking member of the Bene Gesserit, through Dawri Odrade.
The Bene Gesserit are a fascinating group of women, and being able to learn about their ways of thinking and influence on the universe through their plans and schemes from the eyes of their leader makes for excellent storytelling opportunities that Herbert brings to life in this book.
That said, why does Chapterhouse rank 5th in the Dune series ranked list? It’s very slow compared to the other novels. The majority of the book involves observing two (important) characters living together in a space station alone. Similar to a story about the last man and woman alive in the world and the questions that would arise in the scenario. Would they fall in love? Hate each other? Learn to work together amicably? It’s an interesting topic, just not as interesting as the other plotlines found in the rest of the series, at least to me.
Where to Find: You can find Chapterhouse Dune on Amazon here!
#4 – Heretics of Dune
Number 4 in the Dune series ranked is Heretics of Dune, book 5. This is the first novel in the series that strays away from Paul’s vision in Dune and Leto’s Golden Path found in Children and God Emperor. Heretics, like Chapterhouse, feels like a spin-off to the original series rather than a direct sequel to God Emperor, which makes sense considering it takes place 1,500 years after the events in the previous book.
Heretics dramatically expands upon the Bene Gesserit sisterhood that was so prominent yet secretive throughout the series. In this book, we get to see the inner workings and internal politics of the Bene Gesserit. This was the faction that I was most interested in while reading the series, so this book completely satisfied my curiosity with this powerful group of women.
In addition, this book introduces Miles Teg, one of the best characters in a series filled with an incredible cast. However, this book also introduces Sheeana, one of the most annoying characters in the entire series (at least in this book). In a series full of geniuses, reading about Sheeana, a relatively normal kid other than the fact that she can communicate with sandworms, is quite jarring. Normalcy is boring in the world of Dune, and Sheeana is quite simply too ordinary of a character.
Where to Find: You can find Heretics of Dune on Amazon here!
#3 – Children of Dune
Number 3 in the Dune Series ranked is Children of Dune, book 3 in the series. This was perhaps the most challenging book in the series for me to rank. There is so much about this book that just works.
Ghani and Leto are the main protagonists in this book, and somehow, they are just as compelling as Paul was. Paul was a character who struggled with the burden of being a Kwisatz Haderach; Leto fully embraces his powers to an even greater extent than Paul. On the other hand, Ghani acts as a perfect companion to Leto and, in many ways, is just as clever and powerful as her twin brother, Leto. Both are great protagonists and so much fun to read.
Alina is also one of my favorite characters in the series. Her storyline from Dune to Children is tragic. Her descent into madness after the disappearance of her brother Paul and her acceptance of Abomination with the help of Baron Harkonnen was devastating to read. Her storyline reminded me of a classic greek or Shakespearean tragedy.
Of all the books, Children of Dune feels the most like a spiritual successor to the original Dune, and for that, it takes the third spot in the Dune series ranked.
Where to Find: You can find Children of Dune on Amazon by clicking here!
#2 – God Emperor of Dune
Number 2 in the Dune series ranked is God Emperor of Dune, book 4 in the series. This is, in my opinion, the actual conclusion of the story started in the original Dune. God Emperor is also one of the most unforgettable science fiction books you will ever read.
The only way I can describe God Emperor is a philosophical fever dream in book form. This story follows Leto II and his accomplished Golden Path. Finally, there is peace in the universe, but at what cost?
God Emperor is my favorite of all the Dune books and what I most desire to see adapted on the big screen. I don’t want to say too much about this book because it’s better left experienced entirely blind.
Where to Find: You can find God Emperor of Dune on Amazon here!
#1 – Dune
Coming in at number 1 in the Dune series ranked is the one that started it all, Dune (1965). This book is unique for many reasons. First, it is perfectly capable of acting as a stand-alone novel. This book has a perfect beginning, middle, and end that simply tells a complete story.
Second, this book is the most approachable for a broad audience. Fans of action-adventure stories, political dramas, fantasy, and philosophy will all find something to like in this book.
Third, the cast of Dune is the best in the entire series. Paul, Jessica, Chani, Baron Harkonnen, Stilgar, Duncan Idaho, Gurney Halleck, and many more are famous names in Sci-Fi and Fantasy.
This book also introduces us to the different factions in the universe, including the Atreides, the Harkonnens, the Bene Gesserit, Tleilaxu, Sardakar, and the Corrinos.
Here, we are also introduced to one of the most influential factions in all of fantasy, the Fremen.
Dune is one of the most important novels in literature for a reason, and because of that, there is no question that Dune deserves the number one spot on the list.
Where to Find: You can find Dune on Amazon here!
Final Thoughts on the Dune Series Ranked
Every single book in the Dune series is worth reading. If you want a series that will stick with you, make you think, and challenge the way you view the world around you, look no further. The Dune series is a masterclass in writing and a science fiction masterpiece. This series has inspired many famous authors of the past and present. Do yourself a favor and read these books.
And remember, fear is the mind-killer.
If you’d like to purchase all six books of the Dune series at once, you can find them all together on Amazon here!